By Anne Spear <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted January 2000
Summary: Metropolis is under martial law with the "Peacekeeper" as its resident superhero. Can a reporter named Lane lead the fight for freedom?
Jonathon Kent Jr. was flying patrol over Metropolis. He didn't really like going on these patrols. It felt like he was spying on people, but he did enjoy the flying itself.
Regardless of his personal feelings, nightly patrols were part of the job. Officially, Jon had been the Peacekeeper for five years, since he turned nineteen. His father, General Jonathon Kent began training him from the first sign of his powers, around the age of thirteen. At that time, they were still living in Smallville. Before that, he'd been just like any normal kid. He always knew he'd enter military service, just like his dad.
A strange, ticking sound broke Jon from his musings. Using his power vision, he was able to find a bomb set in the court house. With incredible speed, Jon swooped into the building grabbed the explosive, then flew back out the window and straight up. Anyone out after curfew would have seen the fire ball high in the night sky.
As Jon flew back toward the city, he decided to call it a night. Since they'd determined about a year ago that his powers came from sunlight, he had noticed that it took longer to "recharge" after dark.
Back at the penthouse, Jon landed on the balcony and walked into the living room. The housekeeper heard him enter and came out of the kitchen to greet him. She was carrying a tray of snacks.
"Martha, you are just too good to me," Jon said, reaching for the tray and kissing her cheek.
"Oh, stop," Martha answered, waving him off. "You flatterer."
"Is my father around?" Jon asked, biting into a homemade cupcake.
"In the den, as usual," was the answer. Martha returned to the kitchen while Jon approached a closed door, gave a sharp knock, then entered.
Martha Clark had been the Kents' housekeeper since Jon was a baby. General Kent, then a colonel, had just been transferred to Kansas from overseas. When the family had been transferred again to Metropolis, Martha decided to go along. Over the years, she'd started to think of Jon as her own son. She'd surmised that the boy was adopted, even though the General never discussed it. When Jon's powers started manifesting, she was sure of her assumption.
Martha's thoughts were interrupted when Jon entered the kitchen with the empty tray. "I'm off to bed," he commented. "See you in the morning."
"Sweet dreams," she answered.
Next morning, Jon woke to the smell of bacon frying. He threw a robe over his boxers and tied the belt around his waist before going out into the dining room. There was only one place set and a copy of the Daily Planet was left next to the plate. He knew that his father had already left for his office. Jon sat down and power read through the front page article. It was written by someone named L. Lane and was passionately against martial law in general and Jon's father specifically.
Martha came from the kitchen carrying a platter of eggs and bacon. She saw Jon scowling at the paper. "Something wrong?" she asked.
Jon threw the newspaper down on the table. "It's that Lane reporter again," he answered running his hand through his hair. "What is his problem anyway?"
"Well, we still have freedom of speech…so far, and he is entitled to his opinion," Martha answered calmly.
"But he's so off base," Jon argued.
"So tell him," Martha suggested. "Write a letter to the editor and let them know how you feel. You always were good at getting your point across on paper."
"I just may do that," Jon considered her idea and reached for the platter.
After breakfast, Jon showered and dressed. He chose a navy suit and white shirt with a maroon necktie. When he walked through the living room, Martha saw him and whistled. "Why so dressed up?" she asked.
"I decided to go to the Daily Planet and confront Lane myself," Jon answered.
"Just don't start any fights," Martha warned him. "Promise me you'll keep an open mind."
"Don't I always?" Jon grinned and headed for the door. "I won't be late."
Martha just shook her head as she watched the door close behind him.
At the Daily Planet building there was a sign next to the elevators listing the departments and the floor on which each was located. Jon found the floor for the newsroom and entered an empty elevator.
At the correct floor, Jon exited into organized chaos. People were moving everywhere. Most were carrying stacks of papers or folders, books or packages. He finally stopped one young man carrying photographs and asked where he could find L. Lane.
"Hey, aren't you Peacekeeper?" the photographer asked.
"Shh, don't spread it around," Jon grinned. "My friends call me Jon."
"Pleased to meet you, I'm Jimmy," the kid laughed and pointed off to the left. "It's the messy desk with the dead plant, over that way," he answered Jon's original question.
Jon thanked his informant and headed in the correct direction. He found the desk as Jimmy described it, but the dark haired young woman sitting there was not what he expected.
"Excuse me, I'm looking for L. Lane," Jon stated.
"I'm Lois Lane, what can I do for you?" she asked without looking up from her typing.
Jon suddenly found himself at a loss for words. "Well, I…uh," he stammered.
Lois looked up and was surprised to see the subject of her current article standing next to her desk. "You look very different out of uniform," she commented.
Jon looked down at his suit as if he forgot what he'd worn this morning. He suddenly wished he HAD worn the uniform. It might have given him confidence that he just didn't feel right now. Lois, on the other hand, looked perfect in a tan business suit with cream-colored blouse. Her hair was down and just brushed her shoulders and her big, brown eyes were soft like a doe's.
"You said you're looking for me?" Lois asked, wondering why he was starting at her.
"You're the L. Lane who wrote today's front page article?" Jon verified.
"Yes," she answered, a little impatiently. "I gather you didn't like it?"
"You got that right," Jon answered, finally remembering his mission. "I'd like you to print a retraction."
"I can't retract an opinion, and even if I could, I won't."
"Why not?" Jon demanded.
"Because it happens to be true," Lois retorted, rising from her chair to stand in front of him.
"No, it's not," Jon argued, crossing his arms across his chest.
"Yes, it is," Lois insisted, placing her hands on her hips.
"You wrote that martial law is unnecessary and never was," Jon pointed out.
"Yes, I remember what I wrote," Lois answered sarcastically.
"Well, that's ridiculous," Jon insisted.
"Look," Lois sighed, lowering her arms, "everything I wrote is true and I'm not going to stand here and argue about it. Now, if you don't mind, I have work to do." She sat back down and resumed typing, completely ignoring his look of surprise.
"Fine," Jon gave up and floated to the window which overlooked the newsroom. He realized that people were staring but he didn't care. At the ledge, he pulled the window open and sped out in a blur.
Lois watched Peacekeeper leave. "Just wait until you read my next article," she muttered to herself.
Back at the penthouse, Jon flew directly into the living room but didn't land. Instead, he floated up to the ceiling and paced upside down.
Martha heard Jon's footsteps and came out of his bedroom. She did not expect to see him walking along the ceiling. He yanked his tie off and let it flutter to the sofa.
"What happened?" Martha asked as she retrieved the discarded tie.
"That woman is impossible," Jon answered.
"What woman?" Martha questioned further.
"That reporter. 'L' stands for Lois," Jon explained.
"I've never seen you get so upset just because someone disagreed with you," Martha commented. "What happened to keeping an open mind?"
"I did," Jon nearly bellowed, then lowered his voice. "She refused to listen."
"Jon, please come down," Martha requested. "Watching you is starting to hurt my neck."
"Sorry," Jon answered and floated down. As his feet touched the floor, he sat on the sofa.
"Was she pretty?" Martha questioned.
"Who?" Jon asked, distracted.
"Lois Lane," Martha answered, sitting next to him.
"What does that have to do with anything?" Jon asked.
"I was just wondering."
"Okay, so she's gorgeous, but she's also stubborn as a mule."
"And you're not?" Martha asked.
"Not like that, I'm not," Jon defended himself. "She refused to discuss the article at all; just kept insisting that it was all true."
"Maybe it is true," Martha suggested.
"How can you say that?" Jon was appalled.
"Because I agree with her. Not the parts about your father, of course, but I think the need for martial law is past. I mean, the White House explosion was six years ago. We've had no major terrorist activity since then. I think it's time to get on with our lives."
"I stop terrorist activity nearly every night," Jon pointed out.
"But that only started this year. Maybe these recent attacks are because of martial law," Martha suggested.
"So we should just excuse the fact that they've tried to blow up public buildings?"
"No, but force isn't the only way to solve the problem," Martha explained. "Sometimes talking—not arguing—helps."
Jon thought for a minute then stood up. "I'm going for a walk. I have a lot to think about," he said and headed for the door.
Before he even realized it, Jon found himself walking though Centennial Park. When he saw the basketball courts were empty, he wished he'd brought his ball. Exercise usually helped him clear his head. Just past the courts, he noticed Lois Lane talking with Jimmy, the photographer he'd met earlier. He started to "tune into" their conversation, then stopped when he realized why he was spying on them. He was jealous. He was attracted to Lois and didn't want to see her being romantically linked to anyone else. Just before he walked away, Jon heard Jimmy tell Lois, "ten p.m. at Fort Truman."
After dinner, Jon changed into his uniform and left on patrol. His father was still working late at the office, so Jon headed over to Fort Truman to discuss some plans with him.
At the base, a nagging feeling continued to bother him, so Jon decided to check each building using his power vision. In the one which housed the offices, including the General's, Jon saw pressure building in the boiler. He flew in through the front lobby and down the flight of stairs to the basement. The amount of strength needed to open the steam release valve proved that this was no accident. Someone had closed that valve in order to cause an explosion. Unfortunately, Jon had to admit to himself that he knew of two people that were involved, or at least had prior knowledge of the sabotage.
Next morning, Lois entered the newsroom and went straight to Jimmy's desk. "There was nothing on the TV news this morning. What happened?" she asked.
"Peacekeeper got there and stopped it just in time," Jimmy answered.
"Why can't he just leave things alone?" Lois asked no one in particular.
"Because that's his job," Jimmy pointed out, then glanced away. "Speak of the devil…"
Lois turned to see who Jimmy was talking about. Jon Kent was just exiting the elevator. He was dressed in jeans and a black tee shirt. After glancing around the room, he headed for Jimmy's desk. Lois turned back to Jimmy and stated, "Change in plans."
"What are you doing?" Jimmy asked, suspiciously.
"It's time to get the enemy onto our side," she answered.
"That's going to be difficult after the article we ran this morning," Jimmy reminded her.
Jon walked up to Lois and stopped when he was standing behind her. "Ms. Lane, could I speak with you…in private?"
Lois turned, smiled and asked, "Conference room okay?"
"After you," Jon answered.
Lois led the way across the newsroom , opened the door to the conference room and walked in. Jon followed her in, then shut the door.
Lois decided to start first. "I gather you read my article this morning?"
"You gathered right," Jon answered. "Ya' know, I didn't tell anyone about the boiler last night, not even my father."
"What boiler?" Lois asked with a straight face.
"Don't bother denying your involvement," Jon accused. "At the very least, you and Jimmy both knew about the sabotage beforehand. I suspect one of you actually did the deed, but can't prove it."
"How could you possibly know that?" Lois demanded.
"That doesn't matter," Jon replied. "What does matter is that I DIDN'T turn either of you in. Then, this morning, I read that I'm a 'puppet for the military' and my job is to 'hide their dirty laundry.' I'm quoting directly."
"Look, I'm sure you're a nice guy, but you shouldn't take all that so personally. It's was the office of Peacekeeper that I was referring to," Lois explained.
"But I am the Peacekeeper!"
"I was just trying to gain sympathy for our cause."
"What cause? You're terrorists," Jon accused.
"Freedom fighters," Lois corrected him.
"No difference," Jon answered.
"Yes, there is a difference. The need for martial law is a lie. We tried going through normal channels, but no one would listen," Lois explained.
"That's the second time you've told me there's no need for martial law. What exactly are you basing this opinion on?" Jon asked.
"The explosion that destroyed the White House six years ago…" Lois started.
"Right. The president and vice-president were both killed," Jon prompted.
"It was not caused by Mid-East terrorists," Lois finished. "And your father knew the truth."
"What!? That's not possible."
"I know my source is very reliable," Lois insisted.
"Well, I know my father and he wouldn't keep something like that from me," Jon answered.
"I know you believe that, but…" Lois started.
"What does your source say caused the explosion?" Jon interrupted.
"A gas leak," Lois answered. "Apparently, many of the staff used to go down to the basement to grab a quick smoke. One of them must have lit up while the gas was leaking."
"And why do you think my father knew about this?" Jon questioned.
"Because my source has a copy of the fire inspector's report which was given to General Kent in Washington."
"Are you sure it was Jonathon Kent?" Jon asked. "My father hasn't been out of Metropolis since 1983, not even on vacation."
Now it was Lois's turn to be surprised. "What?"
"My father was transferred to Metropolis one year before this explosion and hasn't been away since." Jon stopped for a moment to think. "Could it have been General Andrew Kent?" he asked.
"I didn't know there are two General Kents," Lois commented.
"There were," Jon explained. "Andrew Kent was stationed at Annapolis, which is a lot closer to DC than Metropolis is. He passed away last year from a heart attack."
"Oops," was all Lois could think to say.
"Now will you print a retraction?" Jon asked.
"Yes, but only the stuff against you and your father. I will not take back to part about martial law."
"That's fine, but stop the bombings, too," Jon requested. "I'll talk to my father and see if he'll contact Washington."
"Fine," Lois sighed and headed for the door.
"Just one more thing," Jon started.
"Yes?" Lois asked and turned back to Jon.
"Would you have dinner with me tonight?"
"Dinner?" Lois asked, stunned.
"You know, the evening meal. It's served somewhere between lunch and midnight snack," Jon grinned.
"Okay, Mr. Kent. You're on," Lois laughed.
"After all we've been through so far, I think you'd better call me 'Jon'," he requested.
"Only if you call me 'Lois'," she agreed.
Jon went first to his father's office and told him that the retractions would be printed. He also mentioned that he was working on getting the bombing attempts to stop. Although he was anxious to let the General in on the good news, he was very careful to avoid using any names.
After his meeting, Jon rushed home to prepare for his date. In his bedroom, he rummaged around in the closet looking for the right outfit. "Martha," he bellowed. "Where's my charcoal suit?"
"It's in there," Martha answered as she entered the room.
"Well, I don't see it," Jon argued.
"That's because it's right in front of you," Martha explained, as she reached around Jon and pulled out a plastic covered hanger. She tore the plastic bag off and laid the suit on Jon's bed. Jon took a step back and let Martha pull a pale gray shirt and burgundy tie out of the closet and laid them next on the bed. "Why did I just lay out your best suit?" she asked Jon.
"Because I have a date tonight," Jon answered.
"Really?" Martha acted shocked. "Where's my calendar? I have to write this down."
"All right, that's enough," Jon laughed.
"And who is this date with? Anyone I know? Could it be Lois Lane, by any chance?" Martha asked, eyes twinkling.
"Yes," Jon answered. "We finally talked, calmly, and came to an agreement, so I invited her to dinner tonight."
"Where are you going to take her?" Martha asked, sitting on the end of the bed.
"I was thinking Chez Andre."
"Isn't that a little ritzy for a first date? How about Sullivan's?" Martha suggested.
"An Irish pub?" Jon asked.
"They have that nice duo who sing," Martha pointed out.
"But what if she doesn't like Irish music?" Jon countered.
"So ask her," Martha suggested. "See is she prefers Sullivan's or Mario's."
"Okay, but I need to get ready now," Jon hinted.
"Alright, I'm going," Martha gave in.
After dinner at Sullivan's, Jon suggested a walk through the park. As they strolled side by side, they told each other about their lives. Lois spoke of her parents's divorce and why she joined the freedom fighters, and Jon told her what his father used to be like before work took over his whole life. Jon also told Lois about Martha and how she was like the mother he never knew. "I'd like you to meet her," he said. "She'll love you."
"I'd like that," Lois agreed. "But there's one thing I've wondered."
"What's that?" Jon inquired.
"What's it like to fly?" Lois asked.
Jon smiled. "It's wonderful," he answered. "Sometimes, I go way up where the air is thinner and all the stars are visible. There's no smog or city lights getting in the way. It's so peaceful and quiet, like it was when we lived in Smallville."
"Maybe you could take me sometime," Lois requested.
"To Smallville or flying?" Jon asked.
"Either. Both. Something to plan for our second date," Lois suggested.
Jon grinned and took Lois's hand in his as they continued walking.
Around the next bend, the way was blocked by two Military Police. "Halt," one ordered. "Lois Lane, you are under arrest."
Jon released Lois's hand and took one step sideways so that he was partially blocking her. "On who's authority?" he demanded.
"Mine," came the response from behind Jon and Lois. They turned and saw General Kent flanked by two more MPs.
"Dad? What's going on?" Jon asked.
"We're arresting Ms. Lane for terrorist activity, or didn't you know that she's the leader of a group calling itself 'Patriots for Freedom'? We've been tracking her movements for months." General Kent answered.
Jon turned to Lois and asked, "Is this true?"
"Yes, but you know why I joined the group. When the first leader was killed, they asked me to take over. I decided it was the best way to make sure no one got hurt. I insisted that any building we targeted would be empty when the bomb went off," Lois explained.
"It's okay," Jon assured her then faced his father again. "There's no need for an arrest. Lois has already agreed to stop the bombings. I'm sure we can sit down with a mediator and come to a mutual understanding."
"No," the general decided, "the arrest stands. It is ironic, though. My son was so set on getting a retraction from you when you were right all along."
"What do you mean?" Lois asked.
"I was told about the fire inspector's report about six months after Andrew Kent received it. Also, my original plan for Peacekeeper was more active. Unfortunately, he turned out to be a bleeding heart liberal, and I knew he'd never accept certain assignments."
Jon was shocked. "How can you say that?"
"My first mistake was hiring that Clark woman to raise you. She was the one who turned you into such a goody-two-shoes," Kent mused. He gestured to the MP on his right and ordered, "Take her."
Without thinking, Jon went into action. He lifted Lois into his arms and rose into the air. One of the MPs only managed to get one shot off before he was out of sight.
In the air, Jon decided to go home first and collect Martha. Then he'd find someplace safe to take both women. He flew into the penthouse and landed in the living room. Lois was no longer holding onto him, but hanging limp in his arms with her eyes closed. He realized something was wrong and laid her gently on the sofa. As he removed his hand from behind her back, he noticed blood on it.
Just then, Martha entered from the kitchen, drying her hands on a towel. When she saw the prone figure and the blood on Jon's hand, she rushed to his side. "Oh no, Lois," she breathed. "Jon, go get the first aid kit, quick."
Lois opened her eyes and placed her hand on Jon's arm, stopping him. "Don't leave me," she whispered.
"Lois, I won't let you die," Jon answered.
"It's too late," Lois informed him. "Even Peacekeeper can't save everyone." She coughed, then continued. "Promise me you won't let your father win."
"That man is not my father, not anymore," Jon insisted taking her hand. "I'll finish your fight, Lois. I promise the world will know the kind of hero you are. I'll make sure they never forget you."
Lois nodded and turned to Martha, reaching out her other hand. Martha took it in both of hers. "Stay with him," Lois requested. "He needs you."
"I will," Martha pledged. "What should I tell the others?"
Jon looked up at Martha. "Others?" he asked, but his question went unanswered.
"Tell Jimmy I want Jon to take over for me," Lois answered. "I know he'll run things the way I would."
Lois looked back at Jon and smiled weakly. "I love you," she declared and closed her eyes.
"I love you too, Lois," he answered. "Lois?"
"She's gone, honey," Martha told him, placing a hand on his arm. "We need to take her back to the others."
"How come you already knew Lois and Jimmy and the others?" Jon asked.
"I do owe you an explanation," Martha agreed. "I joined the Patriots two years ago. I fed them information on your fa…the general whenever I could. I also convinced them that you're a good man and that I could get you to join us eventually. I guess Lois was able to do it much faster."
"I'm really not surprised," Jon answered. "But you're right, we do need to get out of here. Once everything's settled with the group, I want to take Lois to Smallville for burial. I sort of promised her."
"We'd better leave the city for a while, too," Martha suggested. "And maybe you should think about changing your name."
"I already have," Jon answered. "From now on I'm Clark, Clark Lane."
Clark left the apartment that he shared with Martha and walked to a local florist. He purchased a basket of spring flowers and walked into a nearby alley. Making sure no one was around, he flew off so fast that only a blur was visible.
Landing near a cemetery just outside of Smallville, Clark walked straight to a heart-shaped marker. He'd visited so often in the past year that he knew the path very well. He didn't even pay attention anymore.
At the gravesite, Clark kneeled down and placed the basket in front of the stone, then just sat quietly for a moment.
"It's me again," Clark started talking out loud. "Well, we finally did it. Congress revoked martial law yesterday. That series of articles I wrote really helped to sway the vote. I'm just glad that Mr. White was willing to print them.
"Mom and I are still living in Washington. The apartment is a lot smaller than the penthouse, but it's enough for just the two of us.
"I just got an e-mail from Jimmy. He's dating a really nice girl named Penny. She joined the group right after I did, and Jimmy started asking her our immediately. At first, she would barely give him the time of day, but I guess his persistence paid off. And guess what, they went to Sullivan's on their first date. I think it's a good sign. I told him I'd bring Mom for a visit sometime next month.
"I also got a call from Mr. White. He wants me to come back to Metropolis and take a full-time job at the Planet. He says things just haven't been the same there since you've been gone. I told him I'd have to think about it. I mean, I'm not sure I want to move back to Metropolis. I really like D.C. and I know Mom loves going to the museums. Besides, all our bad memories are in Metropolis.
"Congress announced today that an election for a new president will be held on November. Mom thinks I should run. I'm not sure I want that much responsibility. But after all the television interviews and speeches before Congress, Mom is sure that I'd be a shoe-in. She said I have a certain charisma that people flock to, and it WOULD be the best way to help get the country back onto its feet. Maybe it's not such a bad idea after all.
"I just wish you were here. We had so little time together and yet, I still feel my heart breaking every time I think of you, even after a year. Mom's been great. Whenever she sees me get misty, she does her best to distract me. But she misses you, too. She once told me that you were like a daughter to her. You know, General Kent didn't agree with the way Mom raised me, but it was those values that she installed that made me strong.
"The General has disappeared, by the way. He sent his resignation to Congress last week and no one's seen him since. I suppose I should look for him, to make sure that nothing has happened, but I'm not in any hurry.
"I've gone back to using my powers again. Mom convinced me that I should use these gifts to help others and helped me get past the guilt after your death. She made me a new uniform, too. It's red and blue and even has a cape. She thought it would look good while I'm flying, so I let her keep it.
"Well, I'd better get back. I told Mom I wouldn't be too late. Bullets bounce off me, but she still worries. I love you, Lois."
Clark wiped a tear from his eye and touched the headstone. With his finger, he traced the name "Lois Lane" under which was written:
Friend, Leader, Hero To Us All.